The Fate Of Arizona's Mail-In Ballot Drop-Offs Still In Debate

Published: Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 10:20am
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 4:17pm
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The state Senate has given it’s preliminary OK to a bill that would make changes to the state’s early voting system, but it’s future still remains unclear.

Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, a Scottsdale Republican, sponsored Senate Bill 1046, which states voters that get their ballots in the mail can only return it in the mail and not drop it off at a polling place on Election Day.

Under the current system, early ballots dropped off on Election Day are among the last to be counted. This bill, Ugenti-Rita said, would speed the process up. She argued her point on the Senate floor Wednesday.

But Phoenix Democrat Martin Quezada said the change would disenfranchise and confuse voters, which could lead to lower turnout. He questioned Ugenti-Rita to further explain her reasons behind the bill and it sparked a fiery exchange on the floor:

Quezada wasn’t alone in his concerns.

Democrat Andrea Dalessandro, who represents a rural part of southern Arizona, said the bill would “stifle innovation” and put the burden of costs back on the counties — money, she said, they just don’t have. She argued further that rural counties face problems an urban-focused bill doesn’t take into account.

But Republican Sylvia Allen of Snowflake, a supporter of the measure, said it’s a common-sense change and would put the onus back on the voters.

The Secretary of State reports more than 250,000 voters dropped off their early ballots at polling places on election day in November. The measure was approved on a voice vote in the Senate Wednesday, but still faces a roll-call vote in that chamber. A pair of Republicans have said they do not plan to support it, which would lead to its defeat.

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